IoT devices and cryptocurrency networks in Japan are being compromised at an alarming rate, according to the National Police Agency on March 7.

The number of cases of suspected illegal access of Web-connected devices nearly doubled in 2018, with almost all of them originating overseas, the NPA data showed.

Hackers use such methods to identify security gaps. Once access is established, it allows them to target devices with a malicious software program.

The NPA urges users of Net-enabled devices to set up IDs and passwords that are difficult to crack for hackers and use multi-factor authentication.

The NPA monitors cyberspace intrusions using a detection network system around the clock, and analyzes the number of intrusions detected per sensor/IP address per day.

An average of 2,752.8 intrusions per sensor per day were detected last year, up 45 percent from the previous year.

Cryptocurrency networks and IoT devices that make life more convenient by connecting electronics at home and the office via the Internet are being more frequently targeted, with average of 1,702.8 intrusions per sensor per day reported last year, roughly double the 875.9 reported the previous year.

On the other hand, the number of intrusions of networks used for sending and receiving e-mail messages and browsing websites has remained at about the same level since 2016.

Most of the originating addresses were located overseas, with just 1.6 percent in Japan.

Overseas sources were located in Russia, with 20.8 percent, followed by China (14.1 percent), the United States (12.6 percent), the Netherlands (6 percent) and Ukraine (5.1 percent).

The police detected a record-high 9,040 cases of cybercrime, including violation of the law banning unauthorized computer access, in 2018.

Crimes involving illegal transfer of money via unauthorized access to cryptocurrency networks were detected 169 times, 20 more than the previous year.

The total financial damage from such cybercrimes in Japan was about 67.7 billion yen ($606.5 million), more than 100-fold the previous year’s 662 million yen.